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Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:33 pm
What if modern civilization as you knew it just disappeared? And I'm not talking about any abstract rhetorical question about whether or not civilization is civilized or anything like that, just the basic premise. What if you were just picked up from where you were right now at this very moment and thrown back more than a thousand years ago to the middle ages. What would you do?

I bring it up because a while ago I heard this wonderful supposition about people during the middle ages and their perspective on the ancient roman world. In it, the professor details the years following the Roman Empire where the advances in technology were essentially lost in one way or another, leaving only these mythically sized ruins and marble specters. One can imagine just how bizarre it would be to live in the shadows of ancient monoliths and wonder where they came from, who built them, and how they were able to do it. People were not so sure how to effectively dig and line wells, let alone build massive aqueduct systems which brought water from dozens of miles away up and down mountains.

But that scenario does not seem so implausible, even today. In fact, I think if we were in that type of situation, we would in some respects be a lot worse off than the men and women of the middle ages. We know what technology is capable of, yet we know nothing beyond the fundamental aspects of what that technology does let alone how to reproduce it. Amusingly, there was apparently so much of a loss of technological know-how that it was very difficult to redevelop the wheel and carriage system developed in antiquity. Seriously. Sounds ridiculous, but how many of us can design a wheel and carriage system, with working axels, drums, lubrication, and even the essential calculation of mechanical advantage right off the bat?



So consider this first hypothetical. Suppose you are who you are now, with all the modern conveniences and so on at your disposal (or potentially at your disposal). Now imagine you were picked up from exactly where you are sitting at your computer and transported back to the time of the dark ages. The Roman Empire has been far gone for a good few hundred years and all the fancy bits of technology they had developed have been lost along with it. Also, for arguments sake, also keep in mind that any evidence of the technology the Romans developed has disappeared too, the only thing that even remotely remains which knows what has transpired in history is in your very own head. What would you be able to do?

Now consider this second hypothetical. Suppose that you had time to prepare before you were removed from this era and transported back to the Middle Ages, and could bring with you a single sheet of paper. What would you put on it? Words of wisdom? Basic chemical formulas? Various schematics? Maps?
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:57 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
cute idea, thanks!

the first question is easy enough for me-i would do the same as i do here in india today. i would go with the flow, try to understand and enjoy life as it was then without making the judgment that it was inferior to what i had been accustomed to. assuming others knew i was some kind of foreigner, when it was applicable i would use some little bits of knowledge and experience to share with others for the sake of their comparison, especially if they ask me.

as for the second one...i may think of something later, but for now i dont think anything would be relevant. i would go with a blank sheet of paper!
 
Leonard
 
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 10:19 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
I'm going to assume that cities and government would be virtually nonexistent, and commerce would be impossible.

How would anyone do great? A life with no civilization leaves someone with few resources. One must find new means of sustenance. Of course, since government and oppressive laws would be removed, you would have much room to live. Money would be no object. I say it'd be horrible, though, because trading and selling becomes difficult. I depend on grocery stores and restaurants for food. How would I fare having to hunt down my own food, catch fish, and live off the land? And medicine can't be accessed. If small groups of people, 10-50, formed colonies, then you could spread your knowledge, and other people could teach you as well.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 11:11 pm
@Leonard,
I'm supposing that you would be put into a very rudimentary iron age society. Of course, there are vestiges of civilization and what not, but the question is about what you would bring to the table once you got there. What would you do exactly to spur on the iron age society you suddenly became a part of if
 
salima
 
Reply Sat 8 Aug, 2009 01:04 am
@VideCorSpoon,
people here still make soap and chew on tree bark instead of buying aspirin, so i would assume all those things would be available back then. you could probably learn more from the people you met than you could teach...and it would be stuff you could use.
 
mister kitten
 
Reply Sat 8 Aug, 2009 01:27 pm
@salima,
If worse came to worse I'd become a theif.
Worse would probably come very soon if not immediately. :Not-Impressed:
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sat 8 Aug, 2009 03:28 pm
@mister kitten,
mister kitten;81934 wrote:
If worse came to worse I'd become a theif.
Worse would probably come very soon if not immediately. :Not-Impressed:


So you would say that because you would not personally be able to bring any technology from your present time into play, so you would become a thief?
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sat 8 Aug, 2009 05:23 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
For the first scenario, I`d be a hermit. No way I`m living with a bunch of stonecutters. I`m not going to give them mathematical formulas and engineering ideas so they can build their catapults and trebuchets.

I`d prefer to offer poetry as I have many lines known by heart from various poems.

VideCorSpoon;81822 wrote:
Now consider this second hypothetical. Suppose that you had time to prepare before you were removed from this era and transported back to the Middle Ages, and could bring with you a single sheet of paper. What would you put on it? Words of wisdom? Basic chemical formulas? Various schematics? Maps?


On the sheet of paper I'd write down how to make my own paper as would be possible in whatever conditions I arrived in.
 
mister kitten
 
Reply Sat 8 Aug, 2009 05:33 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
Yes, Vide. I would not be able to bring much, besides the ideas of the inventions, to the table. I don't know much. But being a theif would be easy as cake. Just need my hands and my wits.

That makes me feel stupid, not knowing how to do much of anything.
 
Joe
 
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 01:19 am
@mister kitten,
I would find something to write with and on, then go to work writing down every word and definition i could think of. Words upon words upon words. Then spread those words. I imagine the rest of my 21st century knowledge would expand through that act, whatever that may be.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Fri 4 Sep, 2009 06:13 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
Well if civilization disappeared, the first I'd do is make sure I fashion some spare glasses, get a few books to read, and make sure I never have to say the line, "It's not fair, there was time now!"
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sat 5 Sep, 2009 07:55 am
@VideCorSpoon,
I'm surprised that their haven't been any aspiring Napoleons that would take that sheet of paper and write down the formulas to take over the world. Abstractly, it seems entirely plausible to do so. It would seem to me that one important little piece of technology from the future reproduced in the past would be a huge. Oh well...
 
 

 
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